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Fiber optic network adjustment

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20140016935 patent thumbnailZoom

Fiber optic network adjustment


A number of fiber optic networks, nodes, and methods are disclosed. One fiber optic network embodiment includes a network module including a star coupler for receiving a signal from a number of nodes and outputting a combined signal, including the received signals, to the number of nodes, and the number of nodes optically connected to the network module, the number of nodes including a transmit module including a first adjustable optical amplifier and a number of optical emitters, a receive module including a second adjustable optical amplifier and a number of receivers, and a controller coupled to the transmit and receive modules for adjusting the first and second optical amplifiers in response to the combined signal.
Related Terms: Fiber Optic Networks Optic Optical Optical Amplifier

Browse recent Lockheed Martin Corporation patents - Bethesda, MD, US
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140016935 - Class: 398 61 (USPTO) -
Optical Communications > Multiplex >Optical Local Area Network (lan) >Active Star

Inventors: Brian L. Uhlhorn, Rick C. Stevens

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140016935, Fiber optic network adjustment.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/160,413, filed Jun. 14, 2011, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/978,392, filed Oct. 29, 2007, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates to optical communication. In particular, the present disclosure relates to fiber optic network adjustment.

BACKGROUND

In the field of optical communication, information is typically encoded onto a light beam in order to create an optical signal that is encoded with information that can be transferred from one device to another via an interconnection device within a fiber optic network of a particular architecture. Situations where a communications system or apparatus is exposed to harsh environmental conditions such as extreme high or low temperatures, extreme changes in temperature, exposure to high radiation levels, large amounts of shock forces, unstable environments, or other such environments, may create issues with component reliability and/or durability, among other issues.

Various approaches to providing a fiber optic network have focused on architectures related to commercial and/or telecommunication applications such as ring architectures. However, such architectures may not have the additional information and/or adjustment capabilities available in other network architectures such as a broadcast star fiber optic network that could be utilized in some situations.

Some implementations of broadcast star fiber optic networks have utilized a single optical power amplification setting at a particular margin above a minimum effective setting to account for variations in network components. These networks are preset and diagnostics may be performed by a technician that accesses the system. Having a technician perform such diagnostics may lead to certain amounts of downtime for the network before a fault is detected, in some instances.

Some networks provide self-setting optical power levels for data transmission for point-to-point fiber optic or free space optical links and have focused on setting power at the transmitter. Such diagnostic approaches can involve external equipment and/or have a cost associated with integration into current modules.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure includes a number of fiber optic networks, optical network nodes, and method embodiments. Such embodiments can be utilized, for example, in aircraft, watercraft, spacecraft, and landcraft (e.g., motorized ground vehicles), among other embodiments. The use of a broadcast star optical network as described in the various embodiments herein can assist some network components in self-tuning and provide diagnostics on the state of one or more network components.

As stated above, the present disclosure includes a number of network embodiments. For example, in some embodiments, the network can include a network module including a star coupler that can be utilized for receiving a signal from a number of nodes and outputting a combined signal, including received signals, to the number of nodes. In such systems, the number of nodes can, for example, be optically connected to the network module.

In various embodiments, the number of nodes can include a transmit module with a first adjustable optical amplifier and a number of optical emitters. Such nodes also include a receive module with a second adjustable optical amplifier and a number of receivers. The number of nodes can further include a controller coupled to the transmit and/or receive modules that can be utilized for adjusting the first and/or second optical amplifiers in response to the combined signal.

In some embodiments, the network can include a controller that can be utilized to adjust the first optical amplifier such that a signal transmitted by the transmit module includes a number of channels at a particular power level. For example, a particular power level can be approximately equal to an average power level of a plurality of channels included in the combined signal, among other level calculations.

In various embodiments, the controller can adjust the second optical amplifier such that a plurality of channels included in the combined signal are amplified to a power level within an operating range for the number of receivers. For example, the controller can increase amplification when the power levels of the channels in the combined signal are below the operating range for the number of receivers so that the number of receivers can correctly receive and process the optical signal.

In some instances, the controller can decrease amplification when the power levels of the channels in the combined signal are above the operating range for the number of receivers. Increasing and/or decreasing amplification of the optical signal to bring the power level of the channels within an operating range of the number of receivers can, for example, help provide a more accurate reading of the optical signal by the receivers.

Network embodiments can include a controller that diagnoses and/or flags hard faults and/or latent faults associated with the fiber optic network. For example, hard faults can include one or more inoperable optical emitters, one or more inoperable upstream connectors, and/or one or more inoperable downstream connectors, among others. Latent faults can include, for instance, one or more weakened optical emitters and/or one or more weakened optical amplifiers, among others. These features can be useful in reducing the effects of component variation and/or in aiding to isolate faults in the fiber optic network to guide preventative maintenance, thereby increasing availability of the network and/or network components, among other uses.

In some embodiments, the controller can boost the first optical amplifier after diagnosing one or more weakened optical emitters. In various embodiments, the controller can boost the one or more optical amplifiers after diagnosing that the one or more optical amplifiers are weakened. These features can be useful, for example, in providing an optical signal at a desired power level although one or more components are weakened.

As discussed above, the present disclosure also includes a number of fiber optic network node embodiments. For example, in some embodiments, the network node includes a transmit module with a number of optical emitters multiplexed by a coupler to a first optical amplifier that can be utilized for transmitting a first optical signal.

The network node embodiment also includes a receive module with a second optical amplifier for receiving, amplifying, and/or sending a second optical signal to a number of receivers via a demultiplexer. In such embodiments, the network node also includes a controller that can be utilized for adjusting the first and second optical amplifiers, diagnosing faults, and/or flagging faults for repair.

In various embodiments, the first optical signal can include a first number of channels, and the second optical signal can include a second number of channels. In such embodiments, the controller can adjust the first amplifier such that a power level of the first number of channels is approximately equal to an average power level of the second number of channels. For instance, in such embodiments, the controller can adjust the second amplifier such that power levels of the second number of channels are within an operating range of the number of receivers, for example, to help provide for a more accurate reading by the number of receivers, among other benefits.

In some embodiments, the controller can diagnose and/or flag a faulty optical emitter according to a power level of a channel associated with the optical emitter relative to one or more power levels of other channels in the second optical signal. In various embodiments, the controller can diagnose and/or flag a faulty first optical amplifier according to power levels of one or more channels associated with the first optical emitter relative to power levels of one or more other channels in the second optical signal. Such features can be useful in improving network and component reliability, among other benefits.

The present disclosure also includes a number of method embodiments. In some embodiments, the method includes receiving, with a particular network node, an optical signal from a star coupler including an output of a number of network nodes coupled to the star coupler. Using a star coupler can, for example, provide a particular network node with information from other nodes in the network, providing an increased information base for adjusting one or more settings for the particular network node to operate more efficiently, according to one or more embodiments of the present disclosure.

Method embodiments can include adjusting an optical transmission power level for the particular network node to be substantially equal to an average transmission power level for the output of the number of network nodes coupled to the star coupler. Setting the optical transmission power level at the average can, for example, increase a likelihood that a transmitted optical signal may fall within an operating range of a number of receivers associated with network nodes that receive the signal, thereby increasing likelihood that the optical signal may be received correctly. Among other benefits, such embodiments can increase network reliability.

In one or more embodiments, a method can include adjusting optical amplification of the optical signal received from the star coupler such that a number of channels included in the optical signal are within an operating range for a number of receivers associated with the particular network node. As described above, such embodiments can, for example, help provide for a more accurate reading of an optical signal by the number of receivers.

In some embodiments, a method can include diagnosing an inoperable transmit laser in the particular node when a channel associated with the laser is indicated by a substantially zero power level in the optical signal received from the star coupler. Diagnosing an inoperable transmit later can, for example, allow the laser to be flagged for repair, which can decrease an amount of down-time for laser by highlighting the defect for technicians.

In various embodiments, a method can include diagnosing an other network node as being absent from the fiber optic network when a number of channels associated with the other network node are indicated by a substantially zero power level in the optical signal received from the star coupler. Such embodiments can be beneficial, among other benefits, in flagging the other network node for repair to a technician.

In various embodiments, a method includes boosting the optical transmission power level for a channel when the channel is indicated by a power level substantially less than other channels associated with the particular node in the optical signal received from the star coupler. Such methods can be useful, for example, in improving the quality of a transmitted optical signal, among other benefits.

In some embodiments, a method includes boosting the optical transmission power level for all channels associated with the particular node when all channels associated with the particular node are indicated by a substantially lower power level than channels associated with other network nodes in the optical signal received from the star coupler. In such embodiments, a method can include diagnosing fouled upstream connectors and/or flagging the upstream connectors for repair. For instance, method embodiments can include diagnosing that the transmission optical amplifier is beginning to fail and/or flagging the amplifier for repair, for example, when the transmission optical amplifier is boosted to a maximum level and/or all channels associated with the particular node are indicated by a substantially lower power level than channels associated with other network nodes in the optical signal received from the star coupler.

In various embodiments, a method can include boosting the optical reception power level when substantially all channels associated with substantially all nodes are indicated by a power level less than the operating range for the number of receivers associated with the particular node in the optical signal received from the star coupler. Such embodiments can include diagnosing fouled downstream connectors and/or flagging the downstream connectors for repair. Some embodiments can include diagnosing that the reception optical amplifier is beginning to fail and/or flagging the amplifier for repair, for example, when the reception optical amplifier is boosted to a maximum level and/or substantially all channels associated with substantially all nodes are indicated by a power level less than the operating range for the number of receivers associated with the particular node in the optical signal received from the star coupler.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an optical network having a star coupler and a number of nodes according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of an optical network including a star coupler and a number of nodes including transmit and receive modules according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 3A-3C are bar graphs representing signal quality for a number of channels for optical amplification setting in a network node of a fiber optic network according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 4A-4D are bar graphs representing signal quality for a number of channels for self-diagnosing hard faults in a network node of a fiber optic network according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

FIGS. 5A-5C are bar graphs representing signal quality for a number of channels for self-diagnosing latent faults in a network node of a fiber optic network according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present disclosure includes a number of method, network, and node embodiments. Embodiments of the present disclosure will now be described in relation to the accompanying drawings, which will at least assist in illustrating various features of the various embodiments.

The figures herein follow a numbering convention in which the first digit or digits correspond to the drawing figure number and the remaining digits identify an element or component in the drawing. Similar elements or components between different figures may be identified by the use of similar digits. For example, 110 may reference element “10” in FIG. 1, and a similar element may be referenced as 210 in FIG. 2.

As will be appreciated, elements shown in the various embodiments herein can be added, exchanged, and/or eliminated so as to provide a number of additional embodiments. In addition, discussion of features and/or attributes for an element with respect to one figure can also apply to the element shown in one or more additional figures.

FIG. 1 is an illustration of an optical network having a star coupler and a number of nodes according to an embodiment of the present disclosure. One suitable type of interconnection for various embodiments of the present disclosure is a star interconnect. However, a few interconnection types are discussed below to allow the reader to become more familiar with the concepts of the types before the discussion of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

Generally, networks allow information to be sent to, shared with, passed on, or bypassed within a number of nodes (e.g., computing devices or other network devices).

This can be facilitated through use of a server (e.g., a main computing device that can direct traffic on the network).

Network types, for example, include local area networks (LANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs), and wide area networks (WANs), among other network types. Networks can also be designed to provide intra-vehicle/building or inter-vehicle/building communications, broadcast distribution, intelligent transportation systems (ITS), telecommunications, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) networks, and other types of communications between two or more devices.

In addition to the different types of networks, networks can be configured in a number of interconnection types. These include bus interconnections, with or without a backbone, star interconnections, ring interconnections, which can be redundant and/or self-healing, other types of interconnections, or some combination of these.

Generally, a bus interconnection, (e.g., daisy-chain) has each node connected on a main transmission line. At one end is a controller and at the other end is a terminator.

Any node that wants to talk to the server has to wait its turn for access to the transmission line. In such networks, only one node can communicate at a time.

When a node uses the network, the information is sent to the controller, which then sends the information down the line of nodes until it reaches the terminating node. In such networks each computing device in the line receives the same information.

A bus network with a backbone operates in the same fashion, but each node has an individual connection to the network. A bus with a backbone interconnection offers greater reliability than a bus type interconnection. In a bus interconnection, if one node in the network goes down, the network is broken. A backbone adds reliability in that the loss of one node may not disrupt the entire network.

Star networks incorporate multi-port star interconnects which utilize a main controlling node to interconnect with all the other nodes in the network. As with the bus with a backbone interconnection, the failure of one node may not cause a failure in the network.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140016935 A1
Publish Date
01/16/2014
Document #
13710031
File Date
12/10/2012
USPTO Class
398 61
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04B10/272
Drawings
7


Fiber Optic
Networks
Optic
Optical
Optical Amplifier


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